Former Democratic Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania has announced that he will marry a 40-year-old man on April 30.
The 90-year-old former senator, who served as an advisor to social activist Martin Luther King Jr. and former President John F. Kennedy and was considered for former President Bill Clinton's vice president in 1992, made the surprising announcement in a New York Times op-ed.
"Too often, our society seeks to label people by pinning them on the wall — straight, gay or in between," Wofford wrote in the April 23 op-ed, 20 years after the death of his wife of 48 years. "I don’t categorize myself based on the gender of those I love. I had a half-century of marriage with a wonderful woman, and now am lucky for a second time to have found happiness."
Wofford noted that, following his wife's death from leukemia, he felt "grateful to be alive" and "lucky to have many friends and family members" to help him through the hard time. He looked forward to assisting then-President Clinton with national service but didn't know what else was in store for him.
" … I also wondered what it would be like living by myself for the rest of my life," he wrote. "I was sure I would never again feel the kind of love Clare and I shared. … I assumed that I was too old to seek or expect another romance."
Five years later, he met his current partner on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
"As we talked, I was struck by Matthew’s inquisitive and thoughtful manner and his charm," Wofford wrote. "I knew he was somebody I would enjoy getting to know. We were decades apart in age with far different professional interests, yet we clicked."
Their relationship matured into a romantic one, and both families accepted the couple over time, according to Wofford.
But Wofford's story is a fairly unusual one, in part because he was born in 1926, a time when homosexuality was still treated by doctors as a mental illness, according to Psychology Today.
"For a long time, I did not suspect that idea and fate might meet in my lifetime to produce same-sex marriage equality," Wofford wrote in the op-ed. "My focus was on other issues facing our nation, especially advancing national service for all. … It is right to expand our conception of marriage to include all Americans who love each other."